Mentoring for Success

Day at Ropes Course
Even university professors take part in Saturday Ropes Course events.

As a university educator, I have the honor and privilege of shaping the minds of young adults. My retirement from public service required that I take one semester off from teaching. I realize how much I miss being on campus with adults seeking education for their future careers.

My daughter is in her final semester and still lives at home, so at least, I can live vicariously through her, although she wants no part of it when I start asking questions.

Although I am not teaching this semester, I still have a few duties in helping students. Earlier this month, one of my students asked me for a letter of recommendation for his internship with the Coast Guard’s Morale, Recreation and Welfare program. He was an excellent student, the kind all educators want in their classroom. Students like him are easy to mentor, if they even need mentoring.

I could have refused, since I am not currently working and do not get “paid” for these types of things. But since writing a letter of recommendation is no sweat, I just did it. He is certain to get this internship because he already exhibits professional acumen and a good work ethic, and I was very happy to assist with this process.

After I sent the letter to him by e-mail, he e-mailed back, “Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it! I will keep you updated with any good news.”

How wonderful is that?

Another example of this was from last semester, when I saw that one of my students in the same class was heading toward an F grade. I sent her a message cautioning her about her excessive absences and late assignments. I even went to our department chair to ask his advice. When he told me that she was a transfer student from a community college and only taking six units, and had been on academic probation before, I decided I needed to talk to her in person.

students in lectures
Image from Sacramento State

Did I have to do this and spend time on this student? Nope. But, isn’t it our job as educators to build the capacity for knowledge and success in our students?

Of course it is.

My daughter had gone through this phase and she regretted the time she lost when she was placed on academic expulsion. I did not want to see this young woman screw up her life by being careless with her education.

I called her in and laid out the issues. Of course, she started crying. She explained her sister was battling drug addiction and she felt compelled to help her, thus the absences and late homework. After sorting out some details, I simply told her to let her parents deal with the sister.

“This is your time now,” I said. “If you fail this class, you cannot ever come back to a California State University. If you flunk out, you can never be in a position to help your sister.”

Thankfully, she took my advice, straightened up and managed a “C” in the class.

How wonderful is that?

Mentoring university students is a blessing. Many full-time professors do not mentor their students, for a variety of reasons. While teaching these last four years, I still had my demanding day job, yet I still took the time to reply to student e-mails (yes, and text messages) in a timely manner. I guess after teaching for four years part-time, I’m still a “newb” and not yet an embattled, overworked, under-appreciated faculty member.

And even though I do not have a PhD and am part-time faculty, the students still call me “professor.”

How wonderful is that?

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19 thoughts on “Mentoring for Success

  1. Wendy

    I love this! My daughter just completed her freshman year in college, and I could not be happier with the faculty at her university and all the invest in their students, in and out of the classroom. It is such a pleasure to watch her grow, and much of it is a result of direct mentoring from her professors. Thank you for all you put into these college students!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Wow! Wow! I need to show this to my students tomorrow! Eighty percent of their high school teachers just pass them on by handing them a grade. They come back to me from junior college crying “you were right, I need to learn how to study “. I needed to see this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LifestyleswithLia

    Your advice to the student as well as your letter of recommendation spoke to your dedication, support and enthusiasm for educating people. I salute you and all teachers out there who help students to achieve their goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I mentor a young lady and I look forward to seeing her weekly as much as she enjoys my visits. You get what you give. My daughter teaches high school, and there are a lot of teachers who seem to just go through the motions. The job is so much more than education.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually was a teacher as well. One thing I always kept in mind was that each student learned differently and was motivated differently. Teachers that care can see it and head off disaster before it happens and we end up with a frustrated person who can pass that frustration on to the future. Nice article. Enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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